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Stroke Care

Stroke Prevention

Stroke Prevention

Stroke Prevention

The more you know about stroke — the types, symptoms, causes and effects — the better prepared you'll be to prevent one from happening to you.

Start Reducing Your Risk Today

The basics of stroke prevention are to maintain a healthy lifestyle and diet, not smoke and control associated medical conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and obesity.

Risk Factors and Lifestyle Choices You Can Control

  • Reduce hypertension (high blood pressure) by eating a healthy low-sodium diet, drinking less alcohol, reducing stress, quitting smoking and taking medications if necessary.
  • Treat and control atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat).
  • Lower your cholesterol levels by eating a healthy diet, exercising, losing weight and taking medications if necessary. Reduce your LDL, the "bad cholesterol" that can clog your arteries, to less than 100mg/dL. Keep your HDL, the "good cholesterol" that helps reduce your bad cholesterol level, at 60mg/dL or higher.
  • Control diabetes (high blood sugar). The National Diabetes Education Program provides a helpful list of ways to manage your diabetes.
  • Don't smoke and if you do, stop immediately. St. Charles Health System offers smoking cessation programs (link). Call 541-382-4321 for more information.
  • Drink less alcohol.
  • Stop using stimulant drugs. In particular, methamphetamine use greatly increases risk of stroke in young people.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity is a major risk factor for stroke.
  • Exercise regularly to keep your body and immune system strong.
  • Eat a healthy diet to help reduce stroke risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. For more information about a healthy diet and stroke prevention, click here.
  • Correct hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and low blood oxygen levels.

Risk Factors You Can't Control

  • Increasing age: The chance of having a stroke more than doubles for each decade of life after age 55. While stroke is more common among the elderly, people under 65 frequently have strokes.
  • Gender: Men are at greater risk for stroke than women, and they tend to occur earlier in life for men.
  • Heredity: A family history of stroke and other associated health conditions increases your stroke risk.
  • Race: Black women have a greater risk of stroke (and heart disease) than white women. Compared with whites, African-American men and women are more likely to die of stroke.
  • Previous stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA) or heart attack.

Other factors that raise the risk of the intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhage types of stroke include:

  • Blood and bleeding disorders such as:
    • Disseminated intravascular coagulation, a serious disorder in which the proteins that control blood clotting are abnormally active
    • Hemophilia or bleeding disorder in which it takes a long time for the blood to clot
    • Sickle cell anemia, a disease passed down through families in which red blood cells are an abnormal crescent moon shape
    • Leukemia
    • Decreased levels of blood platelets (cells)
  • Use of aspirin or anticoagulant medications (blood thinners). If you have been prescribed aspirin, do not stop taking it without your doctor’s advice.
  • Liver disease, which causes increased bleeding risk in general
  • Brain or cerebral (head) tumors

See your physician on a regular basis in order to control any risk factors you may have. If you do not have a physician, the time to establish care is now. St. Charles Family Care (link) will connect you with a physician in your area.